The 9 Buzziest Winter Skin Care Trends, According To Beauty Experts

Spoiler: Ceramides are included.

by Kelsey Stewart
Beauty insiders share the top winter 2021 skin care trends to watch for.
Getty Images/ MStudioImages

In a sense, prepping your winter skin care routine is like dressing for cold weather. Just how you need to stock your wardrobe with toasty gloves and blanket scarves to ward off frostbites, your skin needs some extra love during the season, too. Read: It’s time to pull out winter’s MVP beauty essentials — aka your more heavy-duty products like face oils and moisturizers with ceramides. If you’re in need of some guidance on how to craft a regimen during the chilliest time of the year, the winter 2021 skin care trends have you covered.

Bustle spoke to leading dermatologists and estheticians to get the 411 on what to expect on the beauty shelves this season. The consensus? It’s time to embrace a “less is more” mantra. “Instead of skin care regimens being 10 or 11 steps, everyone is stripping everything back and turning to a minimalistic routine,” says Sofie Pavitt, a New York-based facialist. This translates to multifunctional products, whether that’s a toner that doubles as an essence or a toner-exfoliant hybrid. Look for a steady rise in beauty formulas that combine multiple steps into one in order to streamline and simplify.

Below, experts reveal their predictions of the buzziest winter 2021 skin care trends to have on your radar. Stock up to keep your complexion plump and moisturized all season long.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

1. Prebiotics, Probiotics, & Postbiotics

The beauty world’s emphasis on maintaining a healthy skin microbiome continues, and it’s expanding beyond probiotics. According to Dr. Hope Mitchell, M.D., FAAD, the founder and CEO of Mitchell Dermatology says prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotic-rich skin care products will be on the rise. “Prebiotics and probiotics act to support and proliferate production of the skin’s normal microbiome,” she tells Bustle. Postbiotics work by fighting bad microbes on the skin’s surface, making them beneficial for your complexion’s immunity and defense against external damage.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman, M.D., founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama agrees, noting that products that contain probiotics will be huge this year. “Any products that alter the microbiome of the skin will be popular as consumers look for natural solutions to skin care issues,” he explains. And that’s because these classes of healthy bacteria help to recalibrate your microbiome to perform at its best ability.

Product-wise, Mitchell points to examples like the Avene Cicalfate + Restorative Protective Cream (postbiotic), Elizabeth Arden Superstart Probiotic Boost Skin Renewal Biocellulose Mask (probiotic), and La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ (prebiotic).

2. Body Treatments

Though your body might be hiding underneath layers and layers of clothing, that doesn’t mean it should be neglected. On the contrary, Pavitt predicts body treatments will be favored this winter — specifically, those that extend beyond traditional creams and lotions. As of late, there’s been an uptick in body care products that address skin care concerns like acne, keratosis pilaris, and clogged pores.

Take Soft Services’ new Clearing Mist, which treats body breakouts with ingredients like niacinamide and salicylic acid. There’s also the recently launched Peach & Lily KP Bump Boss Microderm Body Scrub, a formula that serves up the perks of a chemical peel, microdermabrasion treatment, and skin-softener in one to improve keratosis pilaris. Hero Cosmetics, the brand you know and love for its pimple patches, introduced a Brave Body line this season meant to improve your skin beneath your neck with products like its congestion-quashing body toner. Then there’s the multitasking Urban Hydration Brighten & Glow Body Lotion, which gently exfoliates as it provides moisture for a convenient two-in-one.

3. Meadowfoam Seed Oil

Angela Caglia, a celebrity facialist, notes that face oils are one re-emerging trend to watch, especially during the frigid months. “Between forced dry heat and extreme cold, our lipid barrier needs all the help it can get,” she tells Bustle. Adding oils high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants this winter is crucial for keeping your skin’s barrier balanced and glowing, she explains. But meadowfoam seed oil in particular is a star ingredient to look for on product labels.

The plant extract is renowned for its restorative prowess on the skin, says Caglia, who notes more beauty brands are turning to the ingredient to boost complexions. One perk of meadowfoam seed oil? It doesn’t cause congestion — which means it’s an A+ choice for oily and acneic skin types shopping for a face oil. Examples on the shelves include W3ll People’s new Plant Elixir Replenishing Facial Oil, IT Cosmetics’ Hello Results Glycolic Peel + Caring Oil, and Summer Fridays’ Heavenly Sixteen All-In-One Face Oil.

4. Non-Invasive Radiofrequency

In the beauty gadget world, radiofrequency devices reign supreme. “Non-invasive tightening treatments such as radiofrequency will be popular as people look for an extra lift after a long period of mask-wearing,” Dr. Christina Weng, M.D., a Harvard-trained board-certified dermatologist, tells Bustle. “Radiofrequency treatments heat the skin in a controlled manner to create skin contraction, induce collagen production, and support skin remodeling.” Ultimately, this leads to the appearance of smoother skin, diminished fine lines, and an overall lifted effect, she explains.

If you can’t make it to your skin guru for a professional treatment, you can snag a radiofrequency tool to use at home — like TriPollar’s STOP Vx. If you’re looking to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, smooth out the texture, and tone your jawline, give this baby a whirl.

5. Multitasking Formulas

Dr. Tiffany Clay, M.D., FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Atlanta, has noticed her patients are wearing makeup less often while also wanting to simplify their skin care routines. “My patients are coming in and saying they want to be able to go out without makeup and feel comfortable doing it,” she tells Bustle. And that’s exactly why she and Pavitt predict a steady boom in multitasking beauty products that streamline routines.

One do-it-all product? Pavitt loves iS Clinical’s new active peels. “They’re like a wet wipe exfoliator slash moisturizer, and they’re amazing,” she says of the two-step treatment. Additionally, Tatcha’s Overnight Repair Serum, a serum moisturizer-hybrid, serves up glowy, soothed skin as you sleep.

6. Ceramides Galore

This season, call upon uber-nourishing and reparative ceramides to keep your complexion on point. “I think people are looking for barrier repair a lot in the winter, so ceramides are going to have a big year. They’ve become a new skin care trend and a buzzier word,” Joanna Vargas, a celebrity esthetician, tells Bustle. Ceramides come with a laundry list of benefits. “They’re a skin soother and naturally help heal, boost the moisture level of the skin, help the skin repair itself easier, and are very anti-aging and anti-inflammatory,” says Vargas.

Weng echoes this, calling out the ingredient’s ability to protect skin from environmental damage — and seal your complexion’s barrier without the potential clogging effects of Vaseline. “Slugging with Vaseline may feel too heavy for some people, so look for rich textures infused with ceramides that hydrate without being occlusive,” she tells Bustle.

As for new products, Joanna Vargas recently released the Eden Hydrating Pro Moisturizer, which she says will help take your skin from fall through winter. Farmacy’s new Honey Halo Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer uses ceramides as its star ingredient, and CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment balances its acne-fighting actives with ceramides to keep the complexion calm and collected.

7. LED Light Treatments

According to Caglia, LED light therapy will also have a moment this season. “As the confluence of colder weather, shorter days and the ongoing virus threats push us to spend more time inside, at-home LED treatments deliver real results,” she explains. “Whether it’s to combat the signs of aging, treat acne, or boost your mood, so adding LED this winter to your skin care routine is a must.”

While LED face masks are becoming more and more in demand, Caglia says you’ll also start to see more LED devices that treat other parts of the body — for instance, the hands, chest, and even scalp. Dr. Dennis Gross came out with its new BodyWare Pro LED Light Therapy Device that targets the chest and lower back. And as for hair growth, iRestore Professional is an FDA-cleared system that helps with hair loss.

Vargas says LED light treatments work well for all skin types. Her pick? The Omnilux Contour FACE. “I love that one because in a pinch you can use it on body parts if necessary,” she tells Bustle.

8. An Emphasis On Hands

Due to another year of aggressive hand washing (and rightfully so), Mitchell says many will be relying on deep therapy gloves this winter. “Wear the product-infused gloves until the skin absorbs the moisturizing ingredients for smooth, silky, and moisturized hands,” she explains.

In addition to gloves, there’s a big emphasis on hand care in general as brands introduce more targeted reparative formulas for dry, damaged skin. Fenty just launched its Hydra’Reset Intensive Recovery Hand Mask this month, which uses glycerin, fruit oils, and plant extracts, to provide intense moisture. Pro tip: Wear it with gloves for extra impact.

9. QWO

If you’re venturing to your derm’s office for the latest pro-level treatments, you’ll want QWO on your radar. “One of the most popular treatments at the moment is QWO, which is the first FDA-approved injectable for cellulite that removes moderate to severe dimples in the buttocks of adult women,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Bruce Katz, M.D. It works by addressing cellulite at its source: the fibrous bands that hold fat cells underneath the skin’s surface. QWO actually dissolves those so that your cells become more evenly distributed and therefore more smooth. According to Katz, the results can be seen in as little as 10 weeks, and the treatment itself has no downtime. “It requires three sessions and the results last,” he adds. Note it can cost between $695 and $995 per treatment, so add this to your splurge-worthy skin care list.

Studies referenced:

El-Domyati, M. (2011). Radiofrequency facial rejuvenation: Evidence-based effect. J Am Acad Dermatol.

Majeed, M. (2020). Novel Topical Application of a Postbiotic, LactoSporin®, in Mild to Moderate Acne: A Randomized, Comparative Clinical Study to Evaluate its Efficacy, Tolerability and Safety. Cosmetics. DOI:10.3390/cosmetics7030070


Dr. Hope Mitchell, M.D., FAAD, the founder and CEO of Mitchell Dermatology

Sofie Pavitt, a New York-based facialist

Dr. Corey L. Hartman, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama

Angela Caglia, a celebrity facialist

Dr. Christina Weng, M.D., a Harvard-trained board-certified dermatologist

Dr. Tiffany Clay, M.D., FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Atlanta

Joanna Vargas, a celebrity esthetician

Dr. Bruce Katz, M.D., board-certified dermatologist based in New York City